What do I want?

Like a mechanic, a surgeon needs to have a good grasp of the problem you have. Try to think about it in terms of excess skin or fat. Is there an unsightly bump that needs dealing with? Once you have identified what the problem is, ask yourself “how does it affect me?” Is it something that you hide with your clothing or hairstyle? Does it really bother you at all? Do you only notice it in a certain light or in a particular type of photograph? Do you feel self-conscious in certain situations, such as on the beach? Identifying how big a deal it is in your life may help you put perspective on the issue.

“Looking younger” is a vague term and would allow a surgeon to “sell you” any number of different treatments that may not fix the issue that bothers you. The worst thing you can do is ask the surgeon to suggest what needs doing: this way you may undertake procedures that don’t deal with your underlying problem.

Your previous medical history is important; smokers have higher risks of wound complications and poor healing, so stopping smoking is important if you are considering surgery. If you have a significant heart or chest complaint you may need further investigations before surgery. Cosmetic surgery is not life saving or medically necessary in the physical sense, for this reason all risks to your health must be minimised.

When do I want it?

This type of surgery can performed at any time so there is no rush. If you are losing weight, then wait until your weight is stable before undergoing liposuction or abdominoplasty. You should not be in a rush for surgery and worst of all have a deadline such as a holiday. Remember, (rarely) things can go wrong and if they aren’t resolved by your deadline you may be very disappointed.

What options would I consider?

Most of the time, you will have looked up procedures on the internet. If there are options that you particularly want or don’t want: say so. Don’t get talked into doing something you didn’t really want because it is cheaper, less effort or faster.

Should my GP be informed?

I personally like to inform the GP if you are having a procedure, but I give the patient the option of saying no. Remember, cosmetic surgery is still a medical intervention and sometimes, your GP can flag issues up that may avoid problems in the future.

Google everything!

Separate the wheat from the chaff, a good surgeon would be able to guide you but remember they are not experts on forums – they are experts on surgery. So they may not be aware of the latest thread on realself! Look into your surgeon; are they NHS consultants? The standards to achieve an NHS appointment are very high and involve a large amount of vetting. Are they a member of BAPRAS and BAAPS the British associations that govern plastic and cosmetic surgery? Finally, ask yourself “do I like this guy?” – The patient doctor relationship is important and you should feel comfortable with the doctor who looks after you. After all, if there are issues you want to be able to feel you can raise them and have your questions answered. Most of all, you should be safe and secure in your decision and choice of doctor.

If you take time to have a think about your issue with the points above in mind, you’ll get a lot more out of your consultation.